A couple of years ago, when we moved back to California, we faced a number of big challenges — a surprise layoff being one of the biggest — and it resulted in us completely changing our focus and lifestyle. At the time, it was difficult and required a lot of patience, not my biggest virtue, but the payoff was big. Sometimes you really do need that kick in the pants to make changes you’ve had in the back of your head but didn’t quite feel ready for, for one reason or another.
The last two years have been a roller coaster. Up. Down. Sideways. Even upside down. We’d see a straight path ahead and whoosh, we were facing an entirely different direction and had no control. It took a lot of effort to get off that coaster, but we did it. We can all do it. It’s cheesy and sounds very new age, and I’m not like that, but that coaster makes you look at things in a new light and when you get off, you’ve got a whole new perspective. Seeing what’s important is easier, and you have a much better handle on what you can live with and what you can’t. That’s when it’s time to make changes happen.
“Good things can happen. It’s such a surprise!”
(Anyone who recognized that line from Under the Tuscan Sun gets points.)
If you’re unhappy in life, “You’re not a tree. Move.” That’s another favorite phrase of mine. Life’s short. Be happy. Work towards the changes that you want. Job. Living arrangement. Relationship. Business. Education. Hobby. We’ve all got one of those lists of things we want to do — make this week the time that you look at that list with a critical eye and take on one of the things that you want. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ve tried! (And you’ll learn from it. Trust me.) Settling for complacency or easy or familiarity isn’t always what’s going to make you happy. Change is difficult but the end result can be way better than you’ve envision.
For example, one of the changes I’ve made recently is to take back more of my time, starting with Facebook. Time yourself for a few days and you might be surprised how frequently you’re online reading minute details about other peoples’ lives, things that you really don’t want or need to know. FOMO is real — “fear of missing out” — but unnecessary. Honestly, what are we missing out on? Facebook is full of a lot of negative things, and it’s frequently used as a passive-aggressive way of communicating. Are you really going to miss that? Do you want to invite drama into your home or mind? I now use lists on Facebook; this way, I can see the cute dog photos and videos that I love. I can see the recipes and the social media/PR/marketing articles that are so helpful to further my career and business. I don’t see the pointed comments and personal garbage or dirty laundry that’s none of my business. There’s also the Unfollow button; you can still go to those individual pages if you want to catch up on some peoples’ news but without seeing every.little.thing. It’s empowering to say a virtual “no” to things you don’t want to be involved with. (Look at it this way: would you allow those people to come to your door or in your house? If no, it’s a good thing to put on a list or unfriend altogether. No more online “solicitors” of my time and thoughts!) Now my time on Facebook is more productive and enjoyable, and I have a lot more time to work on the other changes I want to do in my life!
Don’t get me wrong — I work in social media, and I love it, but making it more of a business thing and focusing my time back on my family and my other interests is liberating. I realized that I was pinning a ton of appealing recipes and fun crafts but not really doing any of them. What’s the point of that? I have a beautiful set of boards, if I do say so myself, but most of them are untried. How dumb, right? I have piles of good food magazines, photography magazines and books and craft supplies that are dusty. These are the things that make me happy, so I am getting back to basics. After the wedding next month, those babies are all getting busted out and I’ll be featuring crafts on the blog. (I have some unique stuff planned! I love to recycle things in unusual ways, on things I will really enjoy seeing around my house.) I’m going to get back to cupcake recipes and creations, too, one of my first loves that has sat on the sidelines for months now. And my garden? I love it! Getting out there daily and watering my plants, seeing how big they’ve gotten and literally, smelling the roses…I’ve so missed this! A lot of life happens outside of the computer screen or TV screen. Turn them both off, or your phone, if that’s the problem, turn on the music (way more relaxing) and get back to living the good, old-fashioned way.
Eight Ways To Make Positive Changes In Your Life
Write a list of the top 10 things you want to achieve. It can be trips you want to take, a career change, a hobby you want to try, a class you want to try. Think big! If it’s important enough for you to really want, it needs to be on the list, no matter how unrealistic you may think it is.
Try to come up with an order of importance. I want to visit Hawaii again, but I know that’s not going to realistically happen this year. That’s okay — it doesn’t mean I’m taking it off the list, but it means I’m just prioritizing and being realistic. It will happen, but after a slew of other things, so it gets moved to the bottom. Don’t disregard something just because it’s tough! (I use a Stephen Covey weekly planner my dad gave me years ago. I refill the pages each year and can keep daily, weekly and monthly notes in addition to random thoughts. It also has pockets for loose papers, so I can take it everywhere and have everything important in one place. So great for scheduling and organizing!)
Each day, take a step towards the thing you’ve rated the most important. Write your resume so you can start applying to new jobs. Sign up for that class. Research what a new career will entail. Go window shopping on what you’ll need for that new hobby. Call this first step an exploration; find out what it will take and put together the plan for it, a plan of tiny steps you can truly achieve. If it’s going to cost $1000 to start photography, there are a lot of things to plan first. How do you get that $1000 if you don’t have it? How long will it take to save that $1000 and how will you do it? What type of camera will you purchase, and from where? What accessories do you need? Are you taking a class, and if yes, when, where, and what is that cost? Breaking each big goal into smaller, more manageable goals makes it much easier to see the progress you are making. If weight loss is a goal, don’t refuse to celebrate until you’ve dropped that 50 pounds; celebrate at each five or ten pounds. Each pound lost is indeed a big deal and don’t overlook that. Be proud of yourself along the way, not just at the end!
Get organized. Many of us don’t do things because of the time they take, but we all have 24-hour days and life is about managing our time to fit in what we want. Keep lists of your schedule plans and stick to them. Don’t undervalue your personal wants and needs; if it’s important to you, don’t let it be derailed. I really believe that kids learn to respect us more if they see we also have our own lives. We need them to see we’re important, too. They are the focus of our lives but we do have lives, and I want to model that to them. They grow up and move away eventually — what do we do then if they’re our entire life? If something urgent comes up, don’t react by automatically cancelling the time you were planning to spend on running, sending out resumes, writing or whatever. Maybe make a faster dinner or go pick it up instead. (And there are healthy options, so you’re not necessarily trading one issue for another.) Let the laundry sit another day. I’m the first to admit that this is hard for me; I love having a clean house daily, but if it comes down to me getting a relaxing bath in, where I can think and have some quiet, or doing a load of laundry, that laundry’s going to pile up. This is something I’ve had to work on, but as life gets busier, I have to make choices and I’m fortunate to have a husband that doesn’t ask where dinner is the minute he walks in or why the laundry baskets are overflowing. (Instead, he pitches in and helps.)
Baby steps. It may start with a family meeting, where you tell the family that you’ll need them to each do a chore so you can free up the time to start a blog. Sometimes getting people on board with your changes is the hardest part, but if it’s a deal-breaker dream for you, you can push forward. You don’t need to do it all in one day!
Be happy about your changes! Don’t let the negativity of others get to you. Socialize with those who are uplifting and encouraging. If someone likes to tell you that you can’t do it or how hard it is, limit the time spent with that person. You should be proud of the things you are achieving. Sometimes people won’t make the changes in their own lives that they want so they don’t want to hear about yours. Jealousy is not your problem, it’s theirs. Don’t depend on others’ acceptance or input to change what you feel. It’s your life. Think about that and reflect on how much of your life you’ve let depend on others’ opinions or involvement.
Seek help as needed. When I first started my blog, I reached out all over the place. I talked to long-term bloggers and asked a lot of questions. I also read, read, and read more online resources and books. Almost two years later, I am getting to a place with my blog where I have a much more solidified focus, and I know what I need to do to get there. I never pictured that my blog would lead me to where I am today — not only is it as fun and rewarding as I had hoped it would be, but it’s allowing me and my family opportunities I would never have thought about. (I’ve got a press junket this weekend that is the stuff of my personal dreams, truly! It’s not all about money. I do still blog for fun and enjoyment. Even lawyers put aside huge hourly wages at times to cover things out of passion or belief, so a blogger is no different. Sometimes the payoff is bigger than a paycheck.)
Maybe most importantly, give yourself a break. You can’t realign your universe overnight. There will be setbacks. You will run into obstacles and you may have to make difficult decisions. You will make mistakes. You may also run into delays, but delays are only permanent if you let them be. “Take back the power!”
Life is good. Lots of good things have happened recently, a lot of them just this week, and more planned change is ahead. How do you plan to make positive changes in your life? Share!